Racist Man Slaps & Spits at Elderly Black woman, Called Her Rosa Parks, He Didn’t Realize That She Was A Cook County Judge

A North Side business owner slapped a 79-year-old Cook County judge in the face, spit on her and called her “Rosa Parks” after becoming angry that she was smoking near him outside the Daley Center, authorities said.

Monday’s attack outside the courthouse came as a shock to friends of Judge Arnette Hubbard, a silver-haired African-American jurist who was the first female president of the National Bar Association and Cook County Bar Association, both black lawyers’ groups.

“She’s an icon in our community,” said Delores Robinson, past president of the Cook County Bar Association, who noted that Hubbard, a former commissioner on the Cook County Board of Elections, had been an international election observer in Haiti and South Africa and had long been a voice on civil rights and women’s issues.

Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday that Hubbard was outside the Daley Center smoking a cigarette when she walked past David C. Nicosia, 55, who became angry that she was smoking near him.

The two argued and Nicosia, who is white, stepped near her face and said, “Rosa Parks, move,” and spit in her face, prosecutors said. As he walked away, the Law Division judge followed him and called out for assistance.

Nicosia then turned and allegedly slapped the judge on the left side of her face with an open hand, prosecutors said. He was then arrested by sheriff’s deputies and charged with four counts of aggravated battery and a hate crime.

Judge James Brown ordered him held on $90,000 bail Tuesday.

Chief Judge Timothy Evans, whose offices are also in the Daley Center, declined to comment. A representative said judicial rules of conduct barred Evans from speaking about a pending criminal case.

Born in Arkansas, Hubbard graduated from Southern Illinois University and John Marshall Law School and began her legal career in 1969 working on civil rights cases, according to online biographies. As part of the city’s African-American power structure, she spent several terms on the city’s election board as well as the cable commission.

Hubbard was appointed to the bench in 1997, re-elected to a six-year term the following year and retained since in two more elections, most recently in 2010.

Nicosia, who state records show is president of an IT consulting business, has no prior Cook County convictions. His attorney did not return a message seeking comment.

Friends of Hubbard were left shaking their heads Tuesday.

“People of good common sense and decency, people of good hearts should be outraged by this,” Robinson said. “Not just because of who she is but that this happened to anybody.”

“I’m still in shock,” said longtime friend Geraldine Simmons, 75, also a past president of the Cook County Bar Association, who questioned whether deputies acted quickly enough.

(Source: chicagotribune.com)

After a disturbing video of New York resident Eric Garner being placed in a chokeholdand restrained by police went viral, critics have publicly spoken out against theNYPD’s repeated examples of police brutality and use of excessive force particularly in inner city communities.

On the video, Garner, an asthmatic and father of six who family and friends described as a “gentle giant,” is seen telling cops that he can’t breath and appears unresponsive moments later. His cause of death is reportedly "pending further studies."

The chilling video not only provoked anger, but also possessed a troubling resemblance to a scene out of a movie — to be specific, Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing.” Garner’s apparent death by chokehold harkens back to the scene in Lee’s film where character Radio Raheem is choked to death by police, reiterating how the director’s art truly imitates life.

Lee posted a video to his YouTube page that combines images from his film, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, and the viral video of Garner. The result, is nothing less than chilling.

Check out the mashup scene in the clip above.

7 Black Heritage Sites That Aren’t Museums

The nuances of black history can often get lost in some of the more prominent heritage sites. While places like theNational Civil Rights Museum and theNational Museum of African American History and Culture play an integral role in the history of black culture, sometimes the harsh fluorescent lights and ominous structures just won’t do.

Below are some of the most notable black heritage sites in the U.S. that are not confined within museum walls, brought to you in partnership with Comfort Inn® by Choice Hotels®.

1. Ben’s Chili Bowl

ben chili bowl

A landmark in Washington, DC’s historic U-Street Corridor, Ben’s Chili Bowl is most famous for serving as a base for black activists, police officers and firefighters attempting to restore order to the city during the 1968 riots that followed the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King.

2. Weeksville Preservation Site

weeksville heritage center

Located in what is now Bed-Stuy Brooklyn, this site preserves the history of one of the country’s first free-black landowning communities. The area was named for James Weeks, a free black man who, along with a group of investors, purchased the plot of land in 1838.

3. The Shaw Memorial

the shaw memorial boston

Located at the edge of Boston Commons, Shaw Memorial pays homage to the all-black Massachusetts Fifty-Fourth Regiment and their white commander, Robert Gould Shaw. Shaw’s efforts were made infamous in Glory, a 1993 Denzel Washington film.

4. The 16th Street Baptist Church

the 16th street baptist church

Founded in 1873, the 16th Street Baptist Church was the first black church to organize in Birmingham. It was also the site of an historic bombing that killed four little girls during the Civil Right’s Movement, in 1964.

5. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial

martin luther king memorial

Unveiled in 2011 on the 48th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, the Martin Luther King Memorial is the first monument that honors an African American on or near the national mall in Washington, DC.

6. The African Burial Ground National Monument

african burial ground national monument

Located in Lower Manhattan, this site marks the final resting place of New York City’s black community in the eighteenth century. Since people of African descent could not be buried within city walls from the 1690s until 1794, both free and enslaved Africans were laid to rest in this 6.6 acre plot. Due to landfill and development, these grounds lay undiscovered until 1991, at which point they were unearthed during a construction project. In 2006, these grounds were proclaimed a national monument.

7. Frederick Douglass House

frederick douglass house

Preserved as a monument to the famed abolitionist, this Cedar Hill mansion is where Frederick Douglass spent the last 13 years of his life.

And while museums are standard for history lessons, there ARE a few that break the mold:

Studio Museum in Harlem: Founded in 1968, the Studio Museum in Harlem is the first black fine-arts museum in the country and remains a black artistic epicenter, showcasing the works of artists of African descent locally, nationally and internationally.

Stax Museum of American Soul Music: As the only soul music museum in the world, this museum pays tribute to the musical icons who recorded under the Stax Records label in the mid-century. Major players include Otis Redding, Isaac Hayes and comedic genius, Richard Pryor.

Hampton University Museum: This is the oldest African American museum in the U.S., and features over 9,00 fine art and traditional objects.

The National Great Blacks in Wax Museum: This wax museum is committed solely to the study and preservation of African American history, featuring life-size wax figures of prominent black historical and contemporary personalities.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

15 Charts That Prove We’re Far From Post-Racial

On July 2, 1964, the Civil Rights Act was signed into law, officially banning discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. It also ended racial segregation in schools, at the workplace and in general public facilities.

Fifty years removed from that milestone, it’s apparently easy to think that we’re over racism.

Here are 15 facts that prove that’s not the case.

1) Affluent blacks and Hispanics still live in poorer neighborhoods than whites with working class incomes.

An analysis of census data conducted by researchers at Brown University found that income isn’t the main driving factor in the segregation of U.S. cities. “With only one exception (the most affluent Asians), minorities at every income level live in poorer neighborhoods than do whites with comparable incomes,” the researchers found.

"We cannot escape the conclusion that more is at work here than simple market processes that place people according to their means," their report stated. Along with residential segregation, the study notes, comes access to fewer resources for those in minority neighborhoods.

2) There’s a big disparity in wealth between white Americans and non-white Americans.

White Americans held more than 88 percent of the country’s wealth in 2010, according to a Demos analysis of Federal Reserve data, though they made up 64 percent of the population. Black Americans held 2.7 percent of the country’s wealth, though they made up 13 percent of the population.

Much has been written explaining that the racial wealth gap didn’t come about by accident. Among other factorsFHA redliningrestrictive covenants, andexploitative contract selling practices that capitalized on black families’ inability to get conventional mortgages all prevented African-Americans from generating wealth through home ownership for much of the 20th century.

3) The racial wealth gap kept widening well after the Civil Rights era.

It nearly tripled between 1984 and 2009, according to a Brandeis study.

4) The Great Recession didn’t hit everyone equally.

Between 2007 and 2010, Hispanic families’ wealth fell by 44 percent, and black families’ by 31 percent, compared to 11 percent for white families.

5) In the years before the financial crisis, people of color were much more likely to be targeted for subprime loans than their white counterparts, even when they had similar credit scores.

The Center For Responsible Lending came to that conclusion after analyzing government-provided mortgage data for the year 2004, supplemented with information from a propriety subprime loan database.

"For many types of loans, borrowers of color in our database were more than 30 percent more likely to receive a higher-rate loan than white borrowers, even after accounting for differences in risk," the authors of the report wrote.

This wasn’t a new phenomenon. HUD data from 1998 also showed that predominantly black neighborhoods at every income level had a much greater share of subprime refinance mortgages than predominantly white neighborhoods.

6) Minority borrowers are still more likely to get turned down for conventional mortgage loans than white people with similar credit scores.

An Urban Insititute data analysis found that mortgage denial rates from government-sponsored servicers are higher for black applicants with bad credit than for white applicants with bad credit:

chart 6

7) Black and Latino students are more likely to attend poorly funded schools.

"A 10 percentage-point increase in the share of nonwhite students in a school is associated with a $75 decrease in per student spending," a 2012 analysis of Department Education data by the Center For American Progress found.

8) School segregation is still widespread.

80 percent of Latino students attend segregated schools and 43 percent attend intensely segregated schools — ones with only up to 10 percent of white students. 74 percent of black students attend segregated schools, and 38 percent attend intensely segregated schools.

9) As early as preschool, black students are punished more frequently, and more harshly, for misbehaving than their white counterparts.

"Black children represent 18 percent of preschool enrollment, but 42 percent of the preschool children suspended once, and 48 percent of the preschool children suspended more than once," a Department of Education report, released in March, noted.

10) Perceptions of the innocence of children are still often racially skewed.

A study published this year in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that participants estimated black boys to be older and less innocent than white boys of the same age.

When participants were told that the boys, both black and white, were suspected of crimes, the disparity in perceptions of age and innocence became more stark:

chart 10

Separate research by Stanford psychologists suggests that these kinds of racialized perceptions of innocence contribute to non-white juvenile offenders receiving harsher sentences than their white peers.

11) White Americans use drugs more than black Americans, but black people are arrested for drug possession more than three times as often as whites.

This contributes to the fact that 1 in 3 black males born today can expect to go to prison in their lifetimes, based on current incarceration trends.

12) Black men receive prison sentences 19.5 percent longer than those of white men who committed similar crimes, a 2013 report by the U.S. Sentencing Commission found.

13) A clean record doesn’t protect young black men from discrimination when they’re looking for work.

Young white men with felony convictions are more likely to get called back after a job interview than young black men with similar qualifications and clean records, a 2003 study published in the American Journal of Sociology found.

chart 13

14) Black job seekers are often turned away by U.S. companies on the assumption that they do drugs.

The presence of drug testing may actually help to correct this and increase black job seekers’ chances, according to a National Bureau of Economic Research study released in May.

pro testing

15) Employers are more likely to turn away job seekers if they have African-American-sounding names.

Applicants with white-sounding names get one callback per 10 resumes sent while those with African-American-sounding names get one callback per 15 resumes, according to a 2003 National Bureau of Economic Research report. “Based on our estimates,” the researchers wrote, “a White name yields as many more callbacks as an additional eight years of experience.”

Earl Ofari Hutchinson: President Obama Keeps Hearing the Silly Charge He Has Failed Blacks

From the moment that he set foot in the White House in January, 2009 President Obama has had to hear the silly charge that he has miserably failed blacks. He’s repeatedly heard it for two reasons. The first is obvious. He’s black, but more than that he actually practiced civil rights law and worked as a community organizer in poor communities on Chicago’s South Side. Therefore he’s supposed to have an even greater sensitivity to the plight of the black poor. And because of that he has a duty, obligation and even mission to use the power and prestige of the office to do and say more for blacks.

The other reason is pragmatic. Blacks backed him in record numbers in his 2008 and 2012 election campaigns. Despite the relentless beating he’s taken from the GOP, the legions of bloggers, websites, talk show jocks, tea party leaders and followers and assorted racist and fringe hate groups for six years, blacks have remained his staunchest supporters even when they privately grumble that he should do more for them especially since he no longer has to seek reelection.

But what is more? Obama has on occasion had to remind the black critics that he’s not the black president but the American president. This has always gotten much ink, and ignited public and private criticism that he’s not doing enough. But he’s also reminded that he has proposed, backed, implemented, enacted and increased funding for initiatives and legislation and signed executive orders that have boosted blacks in education and business. He’s made the first real White House effort in decades to take some action to bring some modicum of fairness to the horribly race-tinged sentencing and incarceration pipeline for legions of blacks.

The number of low-income blacks that have enrolled in the insurance exchanges with subsidies more than bear out that his signature Affordable Care Act gave them first time access to affordable health care. This has been given thousands of blacks who faced life threatening illnesses a new lease of life. This and his other initiatives have mostly flown low under the radar scope, been ignored, deliberately minimized or distorted by Obama’s black critics.

Obama has refused to say that any of his initiatives and programs were aimed at blacks. The absence of this frank statement and the longing of many blacks to hear him say that fuels the perception and frustration that he isn’t doing enough, or even anything.

Meanwhile, the GOP’s black attack surrogates delight in lashing Obama with alleged figures that show that blacks have supposedly fallen further down the economic ladder during his administration than under Bush. This is crass and a cynical cherry picking of stats to make a trumped up case that Obama is no friend of blacks and therefore they should be no friend of his. The facts are different. Studies that measure how blacks have fared under GOP versus Democratic presidential administrations presidents including the first two years of Obama’s show that blacks have increased their annual average income, including black family income, employment and decreased their poverty rate under Democratic presidents. At the same time, arrest rates have decline significantly faster under Democrats than Republicans.

The gains blacks have made under Obama have been even more remarkable given the other historic cross that he has had to bear. For a quarter century before Bill Clinton won the White House in 1992, Democrats were regarded and reviled by conservatives as the party that tilted to and pandered to minorities. The backlash was swift and devastating. Blue collar and rural white males deserted the Democrats in droves. Their sprint to the GOP became the reliable trump card for Reagan, Bush Sr. and George W. Bush’s White House wins.

Clinton slightly broke the Democrat’s slide among whites, particularly white males. But he had to reverse gears and touted a strong defense, the war against terrorism, tax reform for the middle class, pro-business solutions to joblessness and, most importantly, tip toe around civil rights and poverty issues. Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and John Kerry followed the Clinton blueprint to the letter during their campaigns. If either had won, the likelihood is they would not have made these problems priority items in their White House tenure.

Yet Obama has made jobs, health care and sentencing reform priority items even while having to maintain his presidency as race-neutral. This approach has angered some blacks, but it has not given the Obama baiters anywhere to go with the issue of race. The end game is not what appearance Obama has had to show to the public but what tangible gains blacks have made. On this, Obama can claim much has been done even as he continues to hear the silly charge that he has failed blacks.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. He is a frequent political commentator on MSNBC and a weekly co-host of the Al Sharpton Show on American Urban Radio Network. He is the author of How Obama Governed: The Year of Crisis and Challenge. He is an associate editor of New America Media. He is the host of the weekly Hutchinson. Report on KPFK-Radio and the Pacifica Network.

Follow Earl Ofari Hutchinson on Twitter.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

46 Of New York’s Most Prolific Street Artists, In One Book

From Bushwick to Red Hook, the late 5 Pointz to Welling Court, the Meatpacking District to Spanish Harlem, Pelham Parkway to Hunts Point, and hidden bits of Staten Island in between, street art is everywhere.

New York has become a vibrant hub for the outdoor medium, bringing wheatpastes and spray paint to almost every corner of Gotham. While the metropolis has had a tenuous relationship with street art in the past, many residents of the five boroughs embrace the murals and wall art as the public works of beauty that they are.


One of said residents is photographer and urban explorer Yoav Litvin, who’s giving New York street art the glossy book treatment it deserves. He grew up in NYC in the ’80s, drawn to the colorful imagery plastered on his path to school or on the periphery of the parks he frequented. Even after temporarily leaving the city, his fascination with street art persisted, and, being a photographer, the idea to capture the community in a series of images eventually came rather naturally.

So he met artist Coco144, and then Ron English, Logan Hicks and Alice Mizrachi followed. He became not just a fan, but a friend of the many visual storytellers in Manhattan, Brooklyn and beyond. The book that followed from these relationships, Outdoor Gallery, attempts to profile 46 of the leading minds in New York street art, connecting the graffitists and artists across the neighborhoods in one compendium.

The book is both a guide for those unfamiliar with the tags of the Big Apple and a homage to the heroes street art admirers are more than familiar with. Though he is the professional photographer behind the camera, Litvin’s lens is modest, giving each project its due. “My philosophy as a photographer is to minimize my involvement,” he explained in a past interview, “focus first and foremost on the art and if possible, present the viewer with the interaction between the art and its surrounding; the streets and the people.

You can check out a preview of Litvin’s book, Outdoor Gallery, below. Behold, just a sprinkling of the 46 New York street artists you should know.

  • Chris Stain with Billy Mode
  • Elle and Shinshin
  • Enzo and Nio
  • Nick Walker
  • Robots Will Kill
  • Adam Dare
  • ASVP
  • bunny M
  • Cope2
  • Joe Iurato
  • Russell King
  • Shiro
  • Never Satisfied
  • The making of the book cover, featuring Alice Mizrachi, Cern, Icy and Sot, QRST, Bishop203, gilf and LNY.
  • Outdoor Gallery Book Cover

Yoav Litvin will be speaking about his book in a series of talks. For more information, check out his Facebook page here.

Word-weaver Jamila Lyiscott Cooly Disgraces An ‘Articulate’ Compliment As The Insult It Really Is

(Source: The Huffington Post)

John Fitzgerald Gates, Ph.D.: Microaggression: The New Workplace Bigotry


Ask any African American professional what a white person should never say to or about them and invariably the response will be: “You’re very articulate.” Why, you ask? Because such a statement assumes that African American professionals generally are not in command of “the King’s English,” a sentiment that would rarely be associated with a white professional. It is a contemporary way of saying: “You’re a credit to your race.” No less insulting, racist, or unacceptable as if the person had been called “the n-word”. This seemingly trivial slight is a form of bigotry called a “microaggression” — a small act of non-physical aggression based on bias and stereotypes, usually against someone racially or ethnically different than the perpetrator. Microaggressions are the negative assumptions we make about people that limit their humanity and value. As progressive as many workplaces are, we might be surprised that our everyday interactions are filled with microaggressions that undermine our self-worth and productivity.

A stark example of microaggression can be found in CNN’s recent interview with embattled L.A. Clippers Owner Donald Sterling. While ostensibly attempting to apologize for his racist comments, Sterling refers to African Americans as “the blacks,” a phrase embedded in the lexicon of racism, and of “owning” the players. He talks about “those AIDS” in referencing HIV-AIDS. Of Magic Johnson, a pillar of the African American community, he says: “I think he should be ashamed of himself. I think he should go into the background. But what does he do for the black people? Doesn’t do anything…I just don’t think he is a good example for the children of Los Angeles.” Sterling — a white racist — sought to discredit an African American icon in the eyes of the African American community, a tactic often used in the Jim Crow South. In doing so, he proffered a series of microaggressions that in a work environment would negatively impact employee engagement, organizational climate, output, and the bottom line.

Women are subjected to microaggressions when they are sexualized by their male colleagues, judged harshly by female colleagues, or subjected to standards different from men. Barbara Walters, who became the first woman co-anchor of an evening news program in 1976, recalled that Harry Reasoner, her co-anchor at ABC News, refused to accept her and instead subjected her to demoralizing ridicule. Nearly forty years later, women are still burdened with workplace misogyny. Following a recent interview with General Motors CEO Mary Barra, NBC’s Today show host Matt Lauer was roundly criticized for asking Barra if she could be a good mother and effective CEO of a major company. In suggesting that Barra could not balance work and motherhood, Lauer made a judgment about the competence of female executives that would never be made about male executives, like him, who are celebrated for being power players in boardrooms and great fathers at home. He advanced an erroneous and bigoted narrative that women are inferior to men. In doing so, he demeaned working mothers and damaged his own credibility on such issues.

Even more insidious, however, is when microaggressions are in play long before one enters the workplace — when hiring managers make judgments about a person’s qualifications and fit for a given job prior to giving fair consideration to the person’s candidacy. These microaggressions are more than blind spots, as some suggest; rather, they are attitudes and perspectives that must be changed. Microaggressions can inhabit entire sectors, such as Silicon Valley where reports indicate Hispanic and African Americans makeup 6 percent of the technology workforce, compared to more than 12 percent nationally.

Google recently attributed its poor workforce diversity demographics to “unconscious bias” that cause hiring managers to unwittingly give preferential treatment to candidates who fit a given profile. As a result, Google’s U.S. workforce is 3 percent Hispanic and 2 percent African American. But Google fails to reveal that underlying unconscious bias is a series of microaggressions that individually may seem innocuous, but as a whole are detrimental to the company. To counter public condemnation of its diversity numbers, Google is offering free computer coding lessons to women and minorities, but it has done nothing to find work for the 20,000 fewer African Americans, employed as computer programmers and systems analysts since the end of the Great Recession in 2011. Google has, in effect, eliminated those workers from its consciousness, in what may be its greatest microaggression of all.

Microaggressions diminish and stigmatize people, contributing to a $450 billion to $550 billion per year loss in U.S. workforce productivity, according to Gallop. The good news is that we can cure microaggressions by being self-reflective, empathetic, and willing to address our biases and their impacts on others. We must own up to the fact that microaggressions are harmful. Here’s the safe bet and most proper point of reference: if we would not assume something about, or say something to, a straight white male professional, we probably should not do or say such a thing to an African American, a woman, LGBT member or any other group. Here, the standard must be equality of respect in the workplace. We should accept nothing less.

(Source: The Huffington Post)

Kimika Hudson: The Missing Education on Black Hair

"Why does she wear an afro?" "Why is her hair styled that way?"

Image Credit: Pink and Purple, By Dionysius Burton

These questions spur a conversation about Afro-textured hair that should be occurring. The lack of this conversation has resulted in discriminatory events, for example, this past week Tiffany Bryan, a 27-year-old cancer survivor from New York, was fired from her job for wearing an Afro. This event is not the first: Within the last 12 months soldiers in the military, grade school students, university students and hard-working members of society have been discriminated against because of their hairstyle. These women wore their hair in Afros, twist, dreadlocks and braids not because of some hair fad, but because these styles are essential for their texture of hair. Each of these events, created by a lack of fundamental knowledge on Black hair, offers an opportunity for us to talk openly about the hair of women of color. If the people that committed these acts of discrimination understood that the morphological differences of Afro-textured hair requires a different type of hair care and hairstyles than other ethnic groups, future events of discrimination can be avoided.

Afro-Textured Hair Is Curly Hair

There are five classifications of Afro-textured hair, all of which are variations of curly hair. These classifications range from a looser curl texture to a tightly curly or coily texture. While the biochemical composition of Afro-textured hair is identical to that of Caucasians and Asians, it is its morphological difference in elasticity and comb-ability that causes Afro-textured hair to have different needs. This curly disposition leaves the hair more susceptible to breakage. Styling tools such as combs and brushes, for example, force the curls to elongate, but the curls naturally resist, resulting in breakage. Delicate care is thus needed to preserve hair growth and avoid hair damage.

Image Credit: Black Girl Kinky Curly Afro Hair, By Steven Depolo

The curliness of Afro-textured hair also causes it to have less moisture content than other ethnic groups. Every ethnic group’s scalp naturally produces a lubricant called sebum, which is an oily substance that moisturizes and protects the hair follicle. Water is the second source of moisture that all ethnic groups need to moisturize their hair. Both sebum and water travel down the hair shaft to lubricate the hair, but when these two elements are not able to travel all the way down the hair shaft or absorb into the hair strand, it leads to dry hair. The shape of curly hair, especially tightly curly hair, does not create a straight path for sebum and water to travel all the way down the hair shaft — this is why afro textured hair looses moisture quickly after washing. Dry hair, or hair without moisture, reduces hair pliability and makes it even more difficult to manipulate the hair without breakage, which is one of the reasons that moisture retention is very important for healthy Afro-textured hair.

Afro-textured hair, furthermore, does not benefit from daily washing. When hair is washed everyday it is stripped of its natural essential oils, which leads to dryness and weathering of the hair fiber. People with Afro-textured hair already have naturally dry hair so washing the hair frequently only increases this dryness and leads to damage.

Hair Care and Styling that Promotes Health

Image Credit: Hair Braiding, By Steven Depolo

"Why won’t they just keep their hair straight?"

As explained Afro-textured hair is naturally curly, and there are only two options to keep the hair straight, chemical straightening or heat straightening, both of which severely damage the hair fiber. Chemical straightening, also referred to as relaxers, physically and chemically changes the hair fiber. It damages the hair cuticles by opening up the hair shaft, which makes the hair strand very vulnerable to damage. It also causes damage to the scalp, and since the chemicals in relaxers are said to be toxic there are other health problems associated with its use. Heat straightening with blow dryers and flat irons also damage the hair by harming the hair cuticles and leads to the same problems as a chemical straightener. Keeping Afro-textured hair straight can be unhealthy for the hair, and in the case of a chemical straightener can also be unhealthy for the body. Straightening the hair is a choice not a requirement.

Due to the fact that Afro-textured hair is more susceptible to breakage, and cannot easily be straightened without damaging the hair, individuals of color have to wear hairstyles that promote healthy hair, such as dreadlocks, twist, braids, updos, etc. These styles are also referred to as protective hairstyles, because these hairstyles can be worn for longer periods without constant manipulation of the hair. This is one of reasons why the U.S. military’s ban on solders and personnel wearing dreadlocks, braids or twisted hairstyles is unhealthy and discriminatory. Without these styling options, the only options available to them are chemical or heat straighteners that can damage their hair. In addition, the ease of these protective hairstyles allow these women to focus on being a soldier and not worry about straightening their hair.

When Afro-textured hair is washed and not styled, it naturally forms into the coiffe that is known as the Afro. Thus, when Vanessa Van Dyke and Tiffany Bryan wear an Afro, they are wearing their hair the way it naturally grows from their head. Or when grade school students, such as those at Deborah Brown Community School, Tulsa Okla., and Horizon Science Academy, Lorain Ohio wear their hair in Afro puffs they are simply taking their natural Afros and styling them just like little girls who wear pigtails or ponytails. Should pigtails and ponytails be banned too? Of course the answer is no, because we are taking away hairstyles that are widely accepted and healthy for the hair.

Image Credit: I love My Hair 2, By Dionysius Burton

In the last decade, women of color have increasingly chosen to wear their natural curly hair over straightened hair. This has resulted in YouTube channels, blogs and other online outlets dedicated to teaching women how to care for their hair. The hair industry has also shifted, there are now more products specifically marketed and geared to women who wear natural hair. The media and print, furthermore, now advertise more women with natural hair because of its widespread acceptance.

Hopefully, understanding these fundamentals about Afro-textured hair will help the U.S. military, schools and employers acknowledge that natural Black hair has a morphological difference that requires different needs than other ethnic groups, and in order to maintain the health of Afro-textured hair it needs to wear hairstyles that promote health.

Kimika Hudson is the founder of www.curlyhairschool.com a platform that helps women with kinky curly hair find the right tools and methods for their individual hair needs through online hair courses.